I'm tired of this. This sense of permanent discomfort with the technology around me. The bugs. The compromises. The firmware upgrades. The "This will work in the next version." The "It's in our roadmap." The "Buy now and upgrade later." The patches. The new low development standards that make technology fail because it wasn't tested enough before reaching our hands. The feeling now extends to hardware: Everything is built to end up in the trash a year later, still half-baked, to make room for the next hardware revision.
Take the iPhone, for example, one of the most successful products in the history of consumer electronics. We like it, I love mine, but the fact is that the first generation was rushed out, lacking basic features that were added in later releases or are not here yet. Worse: The iPhone 3G was really broken. For real. Bad signal, dropped calls, frozen apps. This would have been unthinkable in cellphones just five years ago. They were simpler, for sure, but they were failure proof. Today's engineering and testing is a lot more sophisticated. In theory, products can't go out into distribution with such glaring problems undetected.
On the other side, my parents have a Telefunken CRT TV and a Braun radio from the '70s which are still in working condition. They were first generation. They never failed.
For sure, today's products are far more complex than those of 20 or 30 years ago. But back then, the manufacturing was also a lot worse.
Clearly, the problem is the development process and the time to market, with product cycles shortened and corners cut to keep a continuous stream of cash flowing in. The rush to feed these cycles with increasingly more complex engineering seems to be at odds with shortened development and quality assurance processes, resulting in beta-state first-generation products. This beta culture, the same one that already plagues the web, breeds people who are willing to accept bugs in the name of cutting-edge gear.
That's the key: We have surrendered in the name of progress and marketing and product cycles and consumerism.
Maybe the recession will put some order in this thirst of new stuff and change the product cycles. As the economy slows down, people will think twice before buying the latest and greatest; they'll keep older hardware for longer. Then, manufacturers will have to rethink their product lines, and lift their feet from the accelerator, which will result on slower cycles and better products. Maybe that's our ticket for better electronics that actually make sense.
Or maybe... maybe that will be another excuse for the manufacturer to cut even more corners and keep lowering prices so that consumers keep spending and ending up with worse products than we have now.
Article Link (Gizmodo)